First the good news: We found very little to dislike about the the '94 Chevrolet Lumina Euro sedan. In fact, some characteristics -- including impressive powertrain response and credentials -- pleased our test team a bunch.
Now the bad news: there's little, if anything, about this front-wheel drive, four-door sedan that qualifies it for the leading edge of the mid-size sedan category.
In keeping with Chevy tradition, the Lumina Euro presents the mid-size shopper with good-to-excellent value. Our test vehicle had an MSRP of $18,432. In return, the Lumina Euro provided a responsive 3.1-liter V-6, a smooth four-speed automatic transmission, an absolutely superb Delco/Bose AM/FM stereo and a host of power assists. The same price included one of the surest stopping four-wheel anti-lock braking systems we've tested, some nice interior touches and ample passenger and cargo room. It also included ride/hand1ing characteristics that put the Lurnina Euro on the threshold of the sporty category.
Still, this car left us with the feeling of being neither underwhelmed nor overwhelmed.
In profile, our test Lumina Euro presented a slippery aerodynamic look, highlighted by a long, sloping hood that dropped a good six inches from windshield to grille heights, front and rear wraparound plastic air dams and a nifty little spoiler draped on the trunk lid. Was it a functional spoiler?
Perhaps not. It was a nice styling touch, though.
But wait a minute -- haven't we seen this basic look before? You bet. This new Lumina Euro bears an uncanny resemblance to the Ford Taurus and the flock of import sedans that dominated the midsize category five to seven years ago. The result? The Lumina Euro fits in, but it certainly doesn't stand out.
Returning to the positive, Chevy stylists and paint specialists have created an eye-pleasing combination of fit, finish and exterior trim as evidenced by our test vehicle. The deep Garnet Red finish appeared to be without flaw. The color match between sheetmetal components such as fenders and plastic components such as air dams approached perfection.
Front/rear bumper and side trim consisted of a black vinyl strip and centered color strip that married perfectly with the exterior paint. The side trim also appeared to provide excellent door protection. Headlight and taillight configurations were large, almost oversized, and integrated with true wraparound side marker assemblies to give this car a highly visible night profile.
Sleek and functional black vinyl sport mirrors, recessed black door handles and vast expanses of front and side glass cornplete this sedan's well-coordinated but familiar styling statement. The aluminum wheel covers provide a successful counterpoint to the overall exterior scheme. In short, there was a lot to like, but nothing took our collective breath away.
The Inside Story
Entry into the Lumina Euro was quite easy. Unfortunately, as with some other mid-size sedans, neither front nor rear seats give the typical six-footer much legroom. The front and back seats are nicely contoured, with the driver's seat featuring an easy-to-reach and effective seat pivot adjustment. In the middle of the 60/40 split front seat, a center armrest swings down to provide a cupholder as well as arm support. Unfortunately, this raised the first of a few small concerns about overall construction when it presented a seemingly excessive amount of vertical and horizontal play. We also discovered a disturbing little rattle when we stepped on the kick pad that covered the Lumina Euro's firewall.
The expanse of windshield and curved side glass that captured our admiration outside the Lumina Euro also received our raves on the inside. This sedan delivers superior visibility for driver and passengers alike, offering an expansive and unobstructed view of the road and the car's surroundings.
Too bad the Lumina Euro's instrument cluster doesn't echo that expansiveness. It's complete with analog speedometer, tachometer and a full complement of other gauges, and it seems a bit too compressed and crowded. Still, all controls -- including those for the power trunk release, door locks, air conditioning and state-of-the-art Delco/Bose AM/FM stereo with signal seek-scan and cassette player -- were easy to reach and a genu1ne pleasure to use.
Our Lumina Euro's trunk space provided another pleasant surprise. It offered ample room for up to four people's luggage, concealed spare tire storage and a handy cargo net for grocery bags and other easily jostled parcels.
Ride & Drive
Our most pulse-quickening experiences with the Lumina Euro occurred during our performance and handling tests. The 3.1-liter, multi-port fuel-injected V-6, teamed with the electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, delivered impressive performance from a standing start and excellent 50 to 70 mph highway passing. In the words of our test driver: "Hey, this Lumina Euro really kicks out."
The four-wheel anti-lock braking system had stopping power to match. We experienced sure, skid-free stops from all speeds -- including wet-pavement situations -- with a minimum of pedal pulsation.
In keeping with the Euro designation, our test vehicle gave us a slightly stiff but comfortable ride. The same applies to handling. Our initial cornering tests left us with an impression of stiffness. Later, 90-degree cornering attempts replaced that initial impression with a genuine admiration for the precise, tight, nimble handling capabilities delivered by the steering system and four-wheel independent suspension.
Although it lacks the head-turning styling refinements and oh-so-exotic engineering breakthroughs of some of its mid-size counterparts, the '94 Chevrolet Lumina Euro leaves a lot of very positive impressions where things count.
Powertrain response, braking and handling all merit superior ratings. Visibility is equally impressive -- and oh, what a radio.
Chevrolet engineers have come very close to providing a world-class performer; it's a shame the Lumina styling group couldn't create an appropriate look to proclaim the event.
Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084
© 1994 New Car Test Drive, Inc.